One of the many challenges facing the homeless is finding and keeping employment.
Denver is testing a new program that aims to help its homeless population clear this hurdle. The initiative will employ homeless residents from around its city with no strings attached, making it easier than ever for the population to earn an income.
The program, titled "Denver Day Works," is a one-year pilot program that pays homeless people $12.49 per hour (aboveÂ minimum wage) for doing simple tasks that can be done in one day. The program pays the homeless in cash or a gift card, and on the same day they work.
Most of the work they will be doing is shoveling snow and planting trees, which is why the program is forgoing background checks and the need for workings to sign contracts. They just need to show up and work for three or six hours.
"Many of Denver's homeless need work now, not the promise of work tomorrow, and Denver Day Works will provide them the opportunity to access the program through the outreach teams who are connecting with them every day," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told The Denver Channel.
Twelve workers kicked off the program last week, with hopes to pay up toÂ 300 homeless people throughout the year with aÂ $400,000 budget.
One reason for this initiative was to bring in more seasonal workers to the city. Last year, according to a Denver Parks and Recreation official, the city was short 60 seasonal park employees. The city hopes this program will help lead to future long-term employment for some of Denver's homeless population.
Not all of the 300 expected workers will have a full-time job after working for Denver Day Works. The city hopes to have 49 new employees when the program is over. Officials expect around 70 people might stay on for more than one day's work at city or established contract sites.
After their shift is done, financial services are provided for the workers free of charge. And if they don't have the proper identification, there are additional services for the homeless to make sure they're documented properly.